KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — José Ramirez daringly stole home for the go-ahead run in the 10th inning, but the Kansas City Royals rebounded to beat the Cleveland Guardians 4-3 Thursday on pinch-hitter Freddy Fermin’s two-run double in the bottom half.
Even with the win, the Royals reached the season’s midpoint at 23-58, the worst first-half record in team history.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona was in attendance but was not in uniform as an on-going precaution against health concerns. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale managed the Guardians.
Ramirez started the 10th on second base as the automatic runner and advanced on Josh Naylor’s groundout. Josh Bell struck out and with an 0-2 count on Andrés Giménez and left-hander Aroldis Chapman (4-2) working from the stretch, Ramirez took five small steps toward the plate and burst home.
Ramirez noticed third baseman Maikel Garcia playing behind the base and told third base coach Mike Sarbaugh “I’m going to try to steal home.”
Sarbaugh told him to go for it.
“There were two outs, so I decided to take a chance,” Ramirez said.
He slid headfirst and with his body to the infield side of the line, slapped his right hand on the plate as catcher Salvador Perez gloved the high sinker and lunged forward. Umpire Jeremy Riggs called Ramirez out, but the call was reversed in a video review.
“Just instincts. That’s why he’s a great player.” Hale said. “He’s not afraid to play the game with his instincts. He’d seen an advantage and he took it. He felt he could make it and he did. Great slide.”
Cleveland had not stolen homer since Leonys Martin on June 15, 2019.
“He’s amazing,” Guardians starter Shane Bieber said. “We rely upon him in so many different ways, for him to come up again in another different type of way to do it. It was too bad we couldn’t end up on top after that, because we’d like that to be the marquee play of the game, but he provides those all the time.”
Nicky Lopez singled off Emmanuel Clase (1-5) leading off the bottom of the 10th, moving automatic runner Kyle Isbel to third.
“Whenever I get in the box it’s ‘how can I get on first base’,” Lopez said. “I take a lot of pride in getting on base, so I was trying to do something.”
Drew Waters took a called third strike, bringing up the pitcher’s spot in the order created when designated Bobby Witt Jr. replaced Garcia at shortstop on the ninth inning. Fermin lined a pitch into the left-field corner, easily scoring Isbel and allowing Lopez to score standing up.
“I’ve faced him before,” Fermin said. “Just ready for the cutter and the slider, looking for something up and made a good swing.”
Clase blew a save for the sixth time in 30 chances.
Cleveland built a 2-0 lead in the fifth on Ramirez’s sacrifice fly and Bell’s two-out RBI single. Kansas City tied the score in the eighth on Edward Olivares’ sacrifice fly and Nick Pratto’s two-out, run-scoring single against Trevor Stephan.
Bieber faced two batters over the minimum, working around leadoff doubles in the second and third innings. He allowed just the two hits in six shutout innings and struck out eight, one on Waters’ pitch-clock violation that ended the fifth.
“It was a grind,” Bieber said. “To be honest, it was one of those games that I look forward to, dealing with adversity.”
Royals starter Zack Greinke surrendered 11 hits and two walks, but limited the Guardians to two runs over six innings while stranding eight baserunners. He is 0-4 in 10 starts since beating Baltimore on May 3.
“Mainly just three extra outs on the bases, which helped,” Greinke said. “They win a lot of games doing that. It just kind of worked out good for us today.”
Naylor had two of the Guardian’s 13 hits and is hitting .398 (43 for 108) in his last 26 games.
“We left a lot of men on,” Hale said. “We did have our opportunities. It hurts to lose this kind of game with the pitching performance we got from Bieber.”
Guardians LHP Logan Allen was optioned to Triple-A Columbus and RHP Michael Kelly recalled from Columbus.
RHP Cal Quantrill (2-4, 5.61 ERA) will be activated from the 10-day IL (right shoulder inflammation) to start at the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Dodgers RHP Bobby Miller (3-1, 4.13) will oppose Royals RHP Jordan Lyles (1-11, 6.68) in Friday’s series opener.
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